- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- D.R. Congo
- Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea Bissau
- Ivory Coast
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
Monday, November 30, 2015
Being a refugee in Ethiopia
While many European countries protest the arrival of refugees, developing countries host 86 per cent of the world’s refugees, according to a 2013 UNHCR Global Trends report.
Ethiopia hosts about 680,000 refugees, the largest number of any African country.
Often these countries already struggle to respond to the needs of their own populations and are reluctant to allow refugees to study, work or move freely within their territories. Many of these individuals, having no passport and coming from countries often labeled high risk for illegal migration, find themselves cut off from obtaining study visas and work permits for developed countries, and condemned by strict national migration rules to remain as refugees for years in the likes of Ethiopia.
“All they care about is their budgets; they don’t care about refugees,” a 33-year-old Congolese man, who fled to Ethiopia five years ago to escape fighting and government persecution of his minority Banyamulenge tribe, told IPS. “It’s a form of psychological killing living here because we aren’t allowed to work. We are hopeless.”
Distinctions between refugees and economic migrants become blurred. Hence the argument for a new terminology of “survival migrant”, someone falling outside the internationally recognized definition of a refugee but, nevertheless, fleeing very serious socio-economic rights deprivations.
Eritreans accounted for the majority of the 3,000 people who drowned in the Mediterranean this year, humanitarian agencies estimate. So not everyone takes the gamble, choosing to remain at the mercy of the international asylum system.
“At least I’m free to practice my faith here,” Samrawit, a Pentecostal Christian who teaches English classes at the JRS, and who seven years ago also walked at night across the border from Eritrea into Ethiopia, told IPS. “But when you can’t even earn a living, such freedom really counts for nothing.”